FREE NOW – Dare to Love by Carly Phillips

Review by Alexis ArendtDare to Love

“When it comes to family, billionaire football team owner, Ian Dare gives his all, but in relationships he offers the bare minimum. Until one glimpse of sensual Riley Taylor arouses his dominant and protective instincts. He will do anything to possess her … and does. But any future with Riley must include him dealing his half-brother who is a constant reminder of the pain he’d rather forget.

Riley Taylor believes herself immune to domineering men – until charismatic Ian Dare turns a simple kiss into an all-out assault on her senses and she discovers she likes his brand of control in the bedroom. As their affair heats up, they soon realize this is more than just an affair. But Riley’s past is closer than she cares to remember, and her struggles with Ian’s dominance might just cost her everything.” –Amazon.com

Dare to Love is an intelligent and engaging contemporary romance. I was impressed by the well-rounded characters: Ian’s relationship with his family and his sincere efforts to meet Riley halfway keep him from being just another alpha male. I liked the way his sisters kept him grounded and challenged him at the same time.

Riley also has significant depth to her story. Her past with an abusive father is portrayed realistically, without being either underplayed or eclipsing her as a person. In a genre where abuse is being treated more and more often as a romantic trope, this is very refreshing.

With a compelling story line, plenty of ups and downs, and a handful of steamy sex scenes, this is a book well worth picking up!

 

Title:  Dare to Love

Author:  Carly Phillips

Genre:  Contemporary Romance

Publication:  CP Publishing 2013

Price:  FREE (e-book, all formats), $12.29 (paperback)

Author’s Website:  http://www.carlyphillips.com

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Review: Fire of Fryslan by Jen Minkman

Fire of FryslanReview by Alexis Arendt

“Aska, Tjalling, Sytse, Enna, and Royce have fallen into the hands of Mayor Edison. The corrupt leader of Brandaris knows what they have done, but what he doesn’t know is what motivated them. In a desperate attempt to regain power over the island, he uses the five rebels as bargaining chips to force the Skelta to reveal who is part of the Skylger resistance. Anglian girl Melinda and Skylger girl Dani team up to free their friends from prison, but their task won’t be an easy one.

Meanwhile, some of the Sirens from the deep visit the indigenous Skylgers to help them to reclaim what was once theirs. And when Tesla and his assistant set sail for the island of Skylge to come to the people’s aid as well, all bets are off. Edison will not give up his family’s position of power without a fight, and his struggle will involve Anglians, Skylgers, and Sirens alike.

The War of Currents is about to be fought, and nothing will ever be the same again.” –Amazon.com

 

Fire of Fryslan is a thrilling conclusion to the story begun in Sound of Sirens. It’s more fast-paced than the previous installments, which is fair because it has a lot of loose ends to wrap up. Practically every character with a major role in the previous two books has some kind of closure due to them.  To Minkman’s credit, each of them gets it in a way that doesn’t feel too neat or rushed. In facts, she brings the strand of each story together so they bind together in a very satisfying way.

On the other hand, having so many narratives needing attention can get a bit distracting, if not confusing. Melinda and Dani are technically the point-of-view characters for this book. It’s actually great to get inside Melinda’s relatively privileged mindset, and watching her change long-held opinions provides a small-scale model of what the rest of her society is going through. Dani falls a little flat; she seems to be little more than a romantic foil, first for Sytse and then for Melinda. I didn’t remember much about her from the first book, so it was hard to be very invested in her story.

The ending was a heart-wrenching mix of tragedy and triumph, though I could have done without Mayor Edison’s “revelation,” which felt heavy-handed.  It broke the spell of the world that Minkman had so carefully woven throughout the series.  Overall, though, I think Fire of Fryslan is my favorite of the series, and I highly recommend the Tales of Skylge from beginning to end.

 

Title:  Fire of Fryslan (Tales of Skylge, Book Three)

Author:  Jen Minkman

Genre:  YA Fantasy/Science Fiction

Published: Amazon Digital, June 1, 2015

Price: $3.99 (eBook, all formats), $8.99 (Paperback)

Author’s Website: http://jenminkman.blogspot.com/

Review: Light of Lorelei by Jen Minkman

Light of LoreleiReview by Alexis Arendt

The second book in Jen Minkman’s Tales of Skylge series picks up a few months after the events of Sound of Sirens, and features a different main character: Aska, the daughter of an Anglian and a Skylger. Confined to the convent of St. Brandan for being the product of a forbidden union, Aska’s life is dull and hopeless. Unlike most of the girls in the convent, she is pledged to serve St. Brandan for life, not just a few years. The only bright spot in her existence is her best friend, Melinda.

However, beginning when she meets a strange Skylger boy on the beach, Aska’s life quickly begins to change.  Soon she’s embroiled in a conspiracy that may change the course of her life, and the fate of the entire island along with it.

This book was incredibly suspenseful. I was constantly on the edge of my seat, and I found it very hard not to peek ahead to see what was going to happen! Many of the questions asked by Sound of Sirens about the island’s history and the mysterious Nixen are answered here, in some very surprising ways.

Aska’s character was well-developed and interesting, and it was nice to see the island from a different point of view. Her reactions to the revelations about her own history and the romantic feelings she may or may not have for two of the other characters were realistic and heartfelt. Her internal struggles made me care about her fate as a character as well as the overarching plot.

One small quibble I had concerns the character of Melinda, Aska’s best friend, and her sexuality. Melinda states early on in the book that she’s bisexual, but thereafter Aska refers to her as a lesbian. It was most likely an oversight on the author’s part, but I was still disappointed by it. On the other hand, there’s no negative reaction to Melinda’s sexuality, which is nice.

Light of Lorelei is a brilliant installment in the series, and I can’t wait to read the next book, Fire of Fryslan, which is already out!

 

 

Title: Light of Lorelei (Tales of Sklyge Book Two)

Author: Jen Minkman

Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy

Publication: Dutch Venture Publishing (January 29, 2015)

Price: $2.99 (Kindle, Nook, Kobo), $8.99 (paperback)

Author’s Website: http://jenminkman.blogspot.nl/

September Theme Discount – 10% Off Horror Stories!

Word Vagabond has BIG NEWS for up-and-coming authors! We will now be featuring a sale each and every month on a different genre or theme of writing. You can now receive a 10% discount on all editing and formatting services for manuscripts fitting the theme.

This discount will apply on all works with that theme booked in that month. However, this does not mean you have to book the service for the month of the sale. It’s okay if you’re still working on your novel, short story, press release for world domination via summoning Eldritch gods (hey dude, we don’t judge here). For example, if you contact us in September to schedule a Comprehensive edit on your zombie novel for December, you will receive 10% off the total fee!

I don’t know about you guys, but this was the sight that greeted me this morning.

That’s right – LEAVES CHANGING COLORS. PUMPKIN EVERYTHING. Or, as also called it at my second job yesterday, HALLOWEEN SEASON! 

So if your project falls into the horror genre (Any kind of horror! Be it zombies, or flying killer rays, or just humans killing other humans), contact us anytime in September to receive your 10% off discount. Our primary goal is to help authors looking to submit to horror anthologies next month get their short stories, horror novels, tales of terror (maybe you’re the crypt keeper, we’d be great friends if you were) to spine-tingling perfection before your deadline hits.

And if you’re not a horror writer, stay tuned for next month’s theme!

Review: Dangerous Reflections by Shay West

Dangerous Reflectionsby Manda Disley

Alexis Davenport is an ordinary teenage girl whose life gets upheaved when her father leaves and she and her mother are forced to move in with her aunt.  Alexis must start a new school, where she crushes on a guy named Beau, makes new friends, and makes a bitter high school enemy. On top of that, she keeps seeing reflections of other girls in the mirror, and sometimes she gets thrown back in time to take over those girls’ lives and thwart a time traveler who means to mess up history.

This book is written in mostly third person limited, from Alex’s point of view. There are a few instances where the reader gets a sentence or two about what another character is thinking (which is random and a bit confusing when it does happen) but we’re predominantly in Alex’s head. There are a few short chapters that interrupt her narrative where the reader jumps to someone named “Drifter”, who is another time traveler, but they’re few and far between. Alex is a teenage girl and her inner monologue reads that way – or at least it’s supposed to read that way. Her character is a very stereotypical caricature of a teenage girl, rather than an accurate depiction of a girl her age, which was a huge let down. She fell flat and so did all the supporting characters around her.

The plot of this book (the time-travelling) was interesting in the description but played out much like the characters: boring, flat, and just not engaging. To be fair, the book is the first in the series, so perhaps the story makes more sense when you read the other installments, but as a reader I wasn’t impressed. Nothing about the book hooked my attention enough to want to continue reading Alex’s story. It even ended on a huge cliffhanger, or what was supposed to be a cliffhanger. Unfortunately the book was so dull that I have no desire to find out what happens.

There was definitely a lot of potential for this to be a great book. Time travel is a fun concept to play with, especially when put into the hands of a teen girl, but the author just didn’t put in the work. The writing is completely unpolished, the research that went into it felt superficial at best, and none of the characters actually felt like real people.  A disappointment from start to finish.

Title: Dangerous Reflections

Author: Shay West

Genre: YA Time Travel

Publication: Booktrope Editions ( January 1, 2011)

Price: $2.99 (ebook, all formats), $12.56 (paperback)

Author’s Website:  http://shay-west.com/

Review: Charlie’s Hoot by H. Trussell Pyle

charlieshoot“As a favor to his boss, Charlie, an ambitious teenager, uses high-tech savvy to trace the movements of a fleet of drug runners circling the Caribbean Sea. For his well-intended initiative, Charlie suffers a vicious beating and undergoes diabolical torture. His boss is the drug kingpin, posing as a respectable citizen in this Florida resort town. By day he’s the mosquito control director, by night he runs a successful drug smuggling operation. In mob tradition, family ties are important, so he buys a luxurious yacht for his sister, who belongs to a religious order whose members are nuns. She gladly allows him to talk her into running drugs for him because secretly she’s investigating the smuggling racket as her chosen religious vocation. The nun hopes her findings will break up the drug smuggling ring and convince her brother to go straight. Instead, she finds herself in deep trouble with the law. Meanwhile, the mosquito man manages to keep his smuggling activities a secret from the town’s police chief and the editor of its newspaper who are hot on his trail. The cop thinks that breaking the nun’s story of innocence will lead him to the kingpin. The newsman’s best source is Charlie, who once worked part-time at the paper. Complicating things, the nun falls in love with the police chief, who wants only to put her behind bars. Meanwhile, Charlie has mysteriously disappeared.” –Amazon.com

I had a lot of trouble getting into this book. At first glance the plot seems like an interesting one, but unfortunately it’s bogged down by a writing style that would fit better in a news magazine.  Which is to say that it’s told in a very objective, slightly distant way, which failed to make me care about any of the characters at all. In fact, the two main point of view characters, Bohannan, and Mackenzie, were so similar that I spent most of the book unable to tell them apart.

Which leads me to another sticking point: Charlie’s Hoot switches point of view a lot. I made a cursory count based on my notes, and the story switches between at least seven perspectives, most of which don’t do much to advance the plot. Having multiple POV switches within a chapter is distracting, and makes it harder to invest in the main characters.

On a positive note, the book has some beautiful descriptions, particularly of the natural beauty of the island. Pyle gives the reader an immersive sense of place; he clearly has a genuine affection for the setting and how it affects the lives of the characters. In a way, I think the island is the most engaging character in the book.

Charlie’s Hoot, for me, was the equivalent of a Netflix documentary.  It had its good points, and it was mildly informative, but I wouldn’t watch it if there were anything else on.

Title: Charlie’s Hoot

Author:  H. Trussell Pyle

Genre: Mystery/Suspense

Publication: Outskirts Press (February 1, 2012)

Price: $4.99 (Kindle and Nook), $15.95 (paperback)

Word Vagabond Summer Editing Sale!

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Suzanne Lahna

You know who loves summer sales? We do! Summer means longer days, higher temps, and more time to write!

That’s why Word Vagabond is having our huge Summer Sale for the next three months on editing services with our newest addition to the team – Editor and Marketing Monster Suzanne Lahna.

You can save on our already low prices by an additional 15% when you book with Suzanne for the months of June, July, and August! So be sure to send your manuscripts her way, and take the time to catch some sun this summer season while you leave the tedious task of editing to the affordable professionals at Word Vagabond.

Don’t worry, we’ll let Suzanne out for a few hours of needed UV rays too.

Check out our Editing Services page, and then e-mail Suzanne at suelahna@gmail.com!